Finance Committee conducts mid-year budget review
At last night’s Finance Committee meeting, city administrator Frank Pacetti gave a presentation on the city’s budget. He said the city finds itself about $1 million under expense projections for the first half of the year. The city’s approved budget for 2012 was $70.8 million. Pacetti did say that “the city expects to be at the projected budget amount at the end of the year. Where we are does not mean that we will be $2 million under budget at the end of the year,” he said.
Carol Stancato, finance director, said that the city was under budget in personal services, material and supplies, and contractual expenses. There are eight budgeted positions that are still vacant.
The city’s fuel expenses are slightly over budget for the first half of the year, despite many fewer salting and plowing runs this past winter than expected. Transit Director Ron Iwen said that “The city is still able to buy its fuel at $3.44 a gallon, below the $3.50 projected cost for the year, but rising prices could increase that expense.”
Chairman Daniel Prozanski questioned Mike Lemens, director of public works, on the status of the spray park work. Lemens said that he is not confident in the contractor being finished with the work this summer. “This, with the hottest summer we’ve had.”
Alderman Keith Rosenberg then questioned Lemens on the Anderson Pool. “Will it be opened next year?” Lemens replied that, since there is no contract yet, no work has been started yet. A pre-bid meeting was held in which three bidders participated. There were two bidders from the previous bid. “Since the pricing was not competitive, they had to go out for two bids,” said Pacetti. “No bid came in meeting the budgetted amount, so what they could do is move around some Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) money, with the committee’s approval. Prozanski wanted to know, “What did we miss (when we were making our projections)? I’m flabbergasted that we’re still at this point at the beginning of August,” he said.
Matt Olson from The Kenosha News was present, and Prozanski said that he had reported that there were some irregular ways that the original construction had been done, plus they also cited rain as an excuse for not getting the work done. Prozanski wanted to know if it was supply or issues with construction. Lemens replied that he had no knowledge of what was already there.
There was a discussion about Time Warner Cable asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to declare franchise agreement fees paid to municipalities null and void. Pacetti said that, if those fees are abolished, they could leave the city short about $1 million in expected revenue.
Prozanski asked Iwen about the Saturday bus service. “Ridership is still very low on Saturdays, about 300 every Saturday,” he said. “We are in contract talks currently, which may go to arbitration. Act 10 gave employees and the state back their bargaining rights. With three refineries in the midwest down, the gas prices have seen a spike.”
Pacetti also ran down a list of lost revenue: “We lost the funding for the police beat patrol of $140,000. Increased contract costs for the retirement system of $400,000 equals about $1.7 million. The two most significant are the health care package and program. This could be $2 million. Plus, a wage increase for city employees. It’s been four years now without an increase.” Prozanski said, “Plus employees have been required to take furlough days.”
Alderperson Tod Ohnstad asked about the 2013 budget calendar. The budget is usually presented to the Common Council the first Monday in October, either October 1st or October 3rd. Pacetti said that they would then give the Council thirty days to digest it. Committees would then meet the last part of October, first part of November, and the budget would then be finalized the second week of November.